Commentary

Connecting Programmatic To Actual Marketing

I think about media and marketing a lot. I think about it when I’m working on it at my day job. I think about it when I’m watching “Mad Men (buy more white shirts) or “Mythbusters” (Best.Job.Ever.). I think about it when I’m swiping though Flipboard (fliptastic!) and I even think about it when I’m thumbing through The Journal of Light Construction (avoid these five common framing mistakes!).

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t the obsessive oh-my-god-I-need-to-consume-every-bit-of-new-information-that-exists-in-the-world-or-I’ll-look-foolish-in-the- Twittersphere type of thinking. I think about it because I find the combination of media and marketing to be a form of art. It’s dynamic, evolving, and when done well, has a resonance that rivals the content I’m enjoying across various media.

[I can imagine that, at this point, you’re wondering, “I thought I was reading a column about data-driven video marketing, but this guy is gushing about art and ads. WTF??” Just bear with me, dear reader…]

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So when thinking (but not obsessively) about media and marketing, I tend to gravitate to how and why an agency or brand decided to place a particular advertisement in front of a particular audience in context with specific content. Each ad placement is the result of hundreds of decisions across hundreds of people. It wasn’t random (usually) and it wasn’t lightly considered (hopefully). It was conceived and planned and activated to achieve a specific outcome: brand performance, awareness, sales, education, etc.

Which gets me, thankfully, to my point. In the digital video realm, we’ve been drenched in the downpour of articles on price-driven programmatic or RTB buying. It, apparently, is THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. Buy cheap! Efficiency rules! Right? Well, no, not exactly. Why doesn’t anyone talk about effectiveness and viewability?

The rise of programmatic buying and selling of video advertising is, undoubtedly, an enormously positive sea change for the industry. The technology and mindset that enable the real-time trading of advertising provides both marketers and publishers enormous advantages in getting an ad in front of the right person at the right time.

But, as an industry, we haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity. We’ve simply used programmatic as a euphemism for “get me inventory cheap.” Instead, we should be thinking, “How can I apply our hundreds of years of brand advertising learning in a programmatic world?” and “If I can measure engagement, brand performance and viewability in my regular video media buys, why can’t I buy that way programmatically?”

Well, yes Virginia, you can. You don’t have to make false-choice tradeoffs between effectiveness and efficiency, or give up knowing if your ad was viewable or not. You can have both.

Unfortunately, there remains ongoing resistance to real progress. Some folks want to derail the march toward measuring viewability, which is arguably the most effective change to effective advertising we’ve seen. Huh? Who could credibly argue that measuring if an ad has been SEEN is a bad thing? Others want to maintain their “black box” approach to procuring, marking up and reselling both direct and programmatic inventory. Here’s a tip: if your supplier or buyer hesitates when asked about inventory transparency, run for the hills. Would you buy a house without seeing the inside?

Our task as an industry is to provide the best, long-term solutions to the real challenges marketers and publishers face. Not just to make a quick buck or invent a new acronym. The partners who play for the long-term, incorporating viewability, effectiveness and efficiency, will be the ones who help drive your business forward. Our fine art of marketing comes full circle with a healthy splash of science applied.

2 comments about "Connecting Programmatic To Actual Marketing".
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  1. Jason Krebs from Tenor/Google, October 18, 2013 at 1:21 p.m.
  2. Jason Burke from clypd, Inc, October 19, 2013 at 12:16 a.m.

    AR, great piece. 100% agree that viewability is an important factor for all digital media buying and it makes sense that it’s one of the most buzzed about buzzwords of recent years in ad tech.

    However, demanding that programmatic video decisioning must consider viewability is akin to demanding that one must guarantee that the wine is good before they ask the sommelier to open the bottle.

    While it would be great to know if the ad will be viewable (and the wine great) in advance, it requires Doc Brown driving a DeLorean into the future to figure that out before making a decision.

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